Hatem Ben Arfa….take a bow! Were Newcastle fans the only ones that weren’t surprised at his performance v West Brom though?! The magician has been hailed a ‘pioneer’ of the midlands victory, but the Toon faithful have watched the French enigma build since his return from injury and it looks as though he is finally blooming into the talent we were all hoping he was!
However, as threatful as HBA, Ba and Cisse were, it was also at the other end where NUFC looked promising. In Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle have an experienced and confident Premier League leader, and the talent of the Argentinian showed when he was reluctantly substituted at half time due to a hamstring injury.
The Magpies simply didn’t look the same. The absence of the stability and leadership of Colo unnerved Mike Williamson, and Davide Santon’s performance showed why he was left on the bench in the first place. The anxiousness in the defensive unit was highlighted most when West Brom scored their consolation goal.
Newcastle now face the daunting task of approaching the next 2-4 weeks without their instrumental captain, and with the possibility of Europe becoming ever more real, Newcastle could do with anything but this loss right now!
NUFC_Stats looked into the data for their illustrious captain, comparing him to others at Newcastle, in the Premier League and even himself!
At NUFC this season:
In terms of tackling duties, 6 players actually make more than Captain Colo per game – he prefers to intercept, making the 3rd most per game on average at the club. One of the benefits of that, is that he doesn’t foul! 7 playing regulars make more fouls per game than the Argentinian.
Despite Colo’s leadership qualities, it is Mike Williamson who organises the line the best when it comes to pushing out. He wins more offsides per game than any other NUFC player (2.5) – Coloccini wins 1.6 per game on average.
Williamson and Steven Taylor make more clearances per game than the Newcastle Captain, but only Taylor makes more shot blocks on average (2 to 0.7 resepctively), although Colo has played in significantly more games this season.
When it comes to passing, Colo notches the 6th most average passes per game (33.3) and only Davide Santon from the regular starters has a better passing accuracy – 83.4%. Finally, Colo produces the 3rd most outfield long balls per game on average (3.2) after Danny Guthrie and Cheik Tiote.
Against the Premier League others:
When compared to the most appearing centre halves from the other of the current top 10 Premier League clubs, Colo’s stats are somewhat daunting. Other than tackling and winning offsides (showing NUFC’s high line and weakness to pace), he features around the middle band for everything else other than clearances for which he is the worst of the bunch.
Notice the strengths in Laurent Koscielny’s numbers and the passing credentials of John Terry and Ashley Williams. Fabricio Coloccini is an astute figure at Newcastle United but standing ‘toe to toe’ with the best and most regular in the Premier League, he isn’t outshining anyone.
Compared to his first season:
Having said that, the Black & White faithful will testify to the improvement and development of Fabricio Coloccini since his arrival to NUFC in 2008. In his first season in the Premier League, the Argentine was anything but a confident figure, many criticising his laid back approach and his ability to deal with the physicality the league offers.
The most significant improvements can be seen in the likes of his ‘ball winning’ capabilities. Whilst his ground 50-50 win percentage is slightly lower this season, he has improved his general tackling ability but more prominently, his aerial aptitude.
He no longer makes the mistakes he did on arrival; no errors this season compared to 4 in his first, and that confidence his filtered into his possession game – his passing accuracy over 8% better.
It doesn’t stop there; Colo’s attacking game has developed considerably also. He has more opportunities at goal nowadays and gets into positions where he can create more chances than he previously did.
All in all, regardless of Captain Colo’s statistics, the Newcastle fans, his team mates and his manager know how important he is to the club and their chances of European qualification this season. Signing that new deal was a weight off everybody’s shoulders, knowing the Argentinian will be part of the continued progress NUFC hope to make.
However, what is abundantly clear is that Newcastle need to invest in someone with either equal ability to Coloccini or better! When he isn’t in the team, Newcastle do not look like the same outfit – the confidence in the defensive unit appears to get ‘zapped’ and there is no clear leader of the pack, other than Steven Taylor.
Here’s to hoping Colo gets fit before we can say ‘what happened to our season!’.